Governor Cuomo: “We did 57,000 tests just yesterday, highest number of tests in the United States, and we had less than 1 percent transmission rate yesterday. We went from the highest transmission rate in the United States to the lowest transmission rate. We only had 10 deaths overnight. That’s the lowest number since this started. We have about 1,000 people in our hospitals, lowest number since this started, so we watch those numbers every day. I argue and urge and enforce compliance every day. If we see any tick in those numbers we will respond but so far, as I said, the numbers yesterday were all good.”
Cuomo: “In New York we did this differently than the other places and you’re seeing that it worked in New York. The other places basically did reopening as a political exercise. It was politicized by the White House and some states ran to reopen and just forgot about the metrics and the science when you’re dealing with a virus. You are now seeing those states spike.”
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on CNN’s Newsroom with Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow to discuss New York State’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
AUDIO is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s interview is available below:
Jim Sciutto: We’re joined now by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Governor, good to have you on this morning. I know that people are impatient to get back to some semblance of normal life. All of us feel that way, but when you see New York, and New York had, as you know, really the worst experience of this outbreak in the country and when you began to open the door just a little bit in the last couple of weeks I don’t have to remind you of some of the images from downtown of folks out, out close, not abiding by social distancing, not wearing masks. What do you say to people who are taking reopening as a message that it’s all over?
Governor Cuomo: Good morning. Thanks for having me. I say to them they are wrong and I have talked to them about it every day for the past three months and they get it. Look, overall New Yorkers get it. I understand. I have the same concern. People overreact now and think it’s over, but people are by and large overwhelmingly being smart and we see it in the numbers. In New York we did this differently than the other places and you’re seeing that it worked in New York. The other places basically did reopening as a political exercise. It was politicized by the White House and some states ran to reopen and just forgot about the metrics and the science when you’re dealing with a virus. You are now seeing those states spike.
New York, we did the exact opposite. We followed the science. We were enslaved to the science. I look at the numbers every day and we react by the numbers. We did 57,000 tests just yesterday, highest number of tests in the United States, and we had less than 1 percent transmission rate yesterday. We went from the highest transmission rate in the United States to the lowest transmission rate. We only had 10 deaths overnight. That’s the lowest number since this started. We have about 1,000 people in our hospitals, lowest number since this started, so we watch those numbers every day. I argue and urge and enforce compliance every day.
If we see any tick in those numbers we will respond but so far, as I said, the numbers yesterday were all good.
Poppy Harlow: That’s great news to hear, Governor, and thank you for your time this morning. Are you still considering a potential quarantine for people that may come to New York from states where they are seeing a dramatic spike like Florida, for example, and if show how would you enforce it because I know if you go back to march you weren’t happy with Rhode Island when they said that they were going to pull over every car with a New York license plate, right? You called it unconstitutional, so where is your head on that, and how would it be enforced?
Governor Cuomo: What they were talking about back then was Rhode Island targeting just New Yorkers. They pull you over by your license plate which I thought was absurd. Florida did put in a quarantine which I think was more political than anything else, but now we have a very real problem, Poppy. The greatest irony when they write the book in history, New York had the highest infection rate and all these other states were saying, well, we’re going to blockade New York. The President was talking about blockading New York. You would have seen a civil war. We now have the lowest infection rate, and I’m getting calls all day long, people from Florida, Texas, saying we want to be in New York because we’re afraid to be in Texas and Florida. That could actually increase our transmission rate so I’m talking to my neighbors, Governor Murphy in New Jersey, Governor Lamont in Connecticut, about what we do about it. I wouldn’t target a specific state but we know the transmission rate in every state in the united states. It’s a published piece of data. I would consider states with the highest transmission rate that if somebody comes from that state to New York there’s a period of quarantine where they quarantine themselves to make sure they are not spreading it.
Jim Sciutto: Okay, and that’s a step that some countries have taken to put a held on it. I want to get to the issue of police and police violence. As you know an NYPD officer has now been suspended without pay after an apparent chokehold incident. As you know, Eric Garner, it’s been six years since her died at the hands of police with a chokehold. It was only though in the last couple of weeks the State Legislature passed a law banning the use of such a technique. Why did New York wait so long to address this issue?
Governor Cuomo: Look, I’ve taken a lot of measures by executive order over the years. I did by – first state in the United States to have the Attorney General as a special prosecutor to investigate killings by police officers over unarmed people , but there is no doubt that the political mood has changed all across this nation, and I think it is a great thing. Why didn’t they say enough is enough after Eric Garner? I don’t know. Why didn’t they say enough is enough after Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo and Rodney King in Los Angeles 30 years ago? Why did it take so long? I don’t know. But I think the George Floyd murder was the tipping point and you’ve seen this outrage. I actually think it’s related to COVID when you go back and look that there’s a feeling of unity and community that didn’t exist before. But for whatever reason the political mood has changed, it’s been an international swell of outrage. I say great. I said on day one, Poppy, I stand with the protesters. But, the key is now going to be taking that outrage and actually putting it into action. You need to change the policies. You need to change the way we police. And it’s not “Are the police right? Are the police wrong?” Once the community stands up and says, “We don’t trust the police. We don’t respect this type of policing,” the game is over because it’s a relationship. And the relationship is now breached, and it only takes one side of the relationship to say this relationship doesn’t work for me, and it doesn’t matter to say, “Well are you right or are you wrong?” Right? One side says, “I want a divorce.” That’s it, you have a problem in the relationship. And that’s where we are, but we now have to make change. So what I’ve said in New York is every local government, every police department, I want a plan in nine months how you’re going to reinvent your police. Do it as a collaboration with the community. But, what is the budget? What is the function? What is the staffing? How do you demilitarize? What do you mean by defund the police? Make every community sit down, come up with their own plan, make that relationship work so this wasn’t just another moment of outrage in society, it was a moment of real transformational change.
Jim Sciutto: Okay.
Poppy Harlow: Governor, we hear that, and I think we know this moment is different. I think to Jim’s point, when you think back to why change didn’t happen sooner, why do you think that was?
Governor Cuomo: I think you didn’t have the same expression of outrage. I think to make fundamental changes, when you talk about changing the police in this United States, changing education in the United States, don’t underestimate the obstacles to change and the strength of the status quo. You want to make a fundamental change on how we police and what police do, that requires a united, consistent voice of outrage, and is this the first time we’ve had it in this nation. Now, I think it’s easier said than done. Don’t dismiss, “Well, we’ll amount to change.” The status quo is still strong and the transition to actual change, that’s still going to be a big deal. I’m fighting it in New York. I can tell you it’s going to be a big deal.
Jim Sciutto: There’s an election coming up in November, figured you might be aware. Mail-in voting an issue particularly because of the ongoing fears of the pandemic. You have many people expressing interest in voting by mail because of the risk possibly going into a voting station. The President’s attacking it. Attorney General Bill Barr has said, without offering evidence, that it would open the floodgates to fraud, when there is in fact little evidence of that. Are you concerned that the President and Attorney General are creating a case to challenge the results of the election if they were to lose?
Governor Cuomo: Yes. Yes, I believe this is a set-up, my friend. Obviously, mail-in voting makes sense. You can buy something with a credit card over the internet, of course you can do mail-in voting. And, of course, in the middle of a pandemic why do you want people getting on lines? We’ve seen it, it’s absurd, it’s counter to public health, et cetera. I think this is a set up, I think they’re going to lose the election, I think they’re going to claim fraud and they’re going to go back to these states with the mail-in voting and they’re going to use that as an argument. I just hope they don’t do that. The one thing we can’t take in this country with all this anger and all this division, we need a definitive result in November. We cannot have a situation where one side says, “Well, I didn’t really lose.” I think this is a set up for that. I’m sorry to say that and it may sound cynical, but after watching this administration sometimes cynicism is merited.
Poppy Harlow: Governor Andrew Cuomo, thank you very much for your time and good luck to all of New York as New York City enters phase two. We appreciate it.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you.